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May 25, 2005
Jody writes:

But here in Sucre you wouldn't even know that there are riots in Bolivia's capital. I don't know if it's made it to the UK news, but just in case I thought I'd say all is fine in Sucre. You can read more about the protests in this news story.

We had planned to return to La Paz this weekend, but we're going to stick around here for a further week and teach some more English at the school. By then the problems should hopefully die down in La Paz and we can continue on our way to Lake Titicaca and Peru.

It's Sucre's anniversary today and we've been watching military and school parades in the streets. One Bolivian spectator told us that their president is here today, and then slid his finger menacingly across his throat. The president is a pretty unpopular man at the moment and who knows, there might even be a revolution next week. Where's Che Guevara when you need him?

May 21, 2005
Jody writes:

We're still in Sucre, learning Spanish and teaching English, and we may be stuck here for a while if the blockades don't let up. The people of Bolivia block the roads whenever the president steps out of line, which they think he did in a big way last week, over the export of Bolivian gas (as this story reports).

Thankfully, Sucre's a lovely place and we have plenty of friends here now. On Sunday we went to Tarabuco market - once a place where people from the surrounding villages met to trade goods, but now a location where tourists get charged crazy prices for tat.

Our bus was held up on the way to the market to allow a bike race to pass. A team of police officers had been employed to stone any stray dogs that wandered onto the road. One dalmation-cross-spaniel came close to causing a cyclist pile-up, but luckily a cop cracked the beast around the head with a pebble just in time. From where I was standing I could see that while the police used stones to drive the dogs over a hill, a bunch of kids stood on the other side, laughing and shooing them back.

When we eventually arrived at the market, we were mobbed by people weighed down with blankets and tapestries. One old lady tied a woven bracelet to my wrist and then demanded money for it. Another approached us, pointed to her bizarre, sparkly, native headgear and said in Spanish: "Look at my hat! You can take my picture for three Boliviano's." I couldn't turn her down.

Photographing people is tough in Bolivia. Everyone wants a picture of a tradionally-dressed lady in a crazy hat and this woman clearly knew her market well. And if you don't ask politely and pay up, you'll only end up with a picture of someone's back.

Laden with handicrafts that will inevitably reveal themselves as a big mistake when we get back to the UK, we returned to Sucre. That evening I became horribly sick. Perhaps it was something I ate. It's the first time I've been ill since leaving the UK last November, so I can finally stop being smug about being immune to native bugs.

May 13, 2005
Amy writes:

You're in a new country, you can't speak the language very well, things occasionally tend to go tits up.

We were in Bolivia's capital, La Paz about to head down to the southern town of Sucre. As we bought the tickets for our comfy bus, we thought it odd that the guy behind the counter was motioning at us to check our backpacks in already when we had ages to go. It's like going on a plane. You check the bags in at a counter and you're given a ticket with which to collect it at the other end. Still it was easier eating horrible 'station cafe' grub without lugging our huge backpacks with us.

So, we headed to board our 7:30pm bus. The first hint of panic came when we handed our tickets to the guard and he stared at us with a shocked look muttering, "salida, salida" and pointing at the door. Jody and I gave each other blank looks but when we headed back to the cashier' s desk to complain about the crazy man, we finally got it.

The bus already left - almost an hour ago! And not only had we wasted our money but our sodding backpacks were still on board! Everything except the clothes we were wearing and passports were in those bags and now there was a distinct possibility we'd never see them again. Complete stupidity turned into blind panic. Our luggage was winging its way across the country on a luxury bus - without us.

The only course of action was to get the next available bus and chase our bags across the country. Unfortunately for us, we were going to have to go 10 hours to Potosi (the highest city in the world and one we'd been trying to avoid) and then find another bus on to Sucre. However, we'd heard so much about the bag thieves in South America that despite the cashier's reassurance that when we got to the other end we'd just have to show the tickets to get the bags back - we were already getting frantic.

And luck definately wasn't on our side. The only other bus leaving that night was a 'normal' coach (very cheap but cramped) and it seemed like every Bolivian in La Paz wanted to get on it. Women with kids, women carrying sacks of Bolivia t-shirts, a group of drunks (who got the back seats and shouted all night) and some old women, who had a row over seats so fierce that the conductor had to get on to calm them down.

When we finally left La Paz two hours late, Jody's legs had already seized up from lack of legroom and we were forced to sit through an hour of a guy screaming through the coach about digestive problems, showing a flip-chart of the internal organs as he tried to flog some 'miracle' cure. I pretended to go to sleep but listened as he was laughed at by the other passengers. Unsurprisingly, nobody bought any. Just as I thought we'd got rid of him and could get some peace, another guy got on selling his answer for back problems.

Eventually, I managed to curl my body onto the seat to doze but I have no trouble sleeping on buses. In fact, I have trouble staying awake! However, the worry of the backpacks kept rousing me and we spent a lot of time disecting the contents of our bag wondering which clothes/books/medicines we'd have trouble living without . Apart from one toilet stop (no loo on board), around 4am at a Bolivian version of a 'Little Chef' (some deserted cafe in the middle of nowhere), at least there were no more disruptions.

Despite the much famed attractions in Potosi, we were so worried about the altitude (4100m) that we practically ran into the bus station there and got the first one we could - staying a possible record of about 15 minutes. We managed to see a few of the city's famous churches as we left. With it being a Sunday, the bus driver treated us to a tape of terrible wannabe singers belting out church songs, probably recorded at his local service the week before. No chance of a nap here then either.

Three hours later, Sucre bus terminal looked deserted. We eventually found a guy manning the 'Trans Copacabana' office and after about five minutes of sign language and us waving the tickets at him, he announced that our bags were in the cargo store across the road. I must have looked thrilled as Jody told me not to relax until we'd seen that they were in fact OUR bags. It was a tense moment, but there at the back of the dusty warehouse were our backpacks. I practically threw the tickets at the man. Sucre's a pretty city, but that day we didn't see any of it - we went straight to bed.

Where are we? Still in Sucre enjoying the warm weather. Someone's bravely given us a voluntary job teaching English to people who can't normally afford to learn. I have a class rowdy 10-year-olds while Jody's teens are angelic by comparison.

For older entries, see the archives at the top right-hand side of this page.
Jody and Amy have finished their 10 month adventure around the world, that began Nov 2, 2004, and ended Sep 2, 2005. They're back home in London now, doing normal things, like going to work and drinking tap water. You can see a map of what was their planned route, but we didn't quite follow it.
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